By STEVE JACKSON
The last week of the regular high school football season wraps up Friday under the lights for the five South Shore teams.
Sumner High travels to 4-5 Middleton High in Tampa. Unless the Stingrays are dreaming too much about the upcoming playoffs, the Stingrays should finish the regular campaign at 9-1. Despite stumping their toe in the recent Durant loss, Sumner is expected to open the playoff Nov. 10. The first round playoff schedule will be announced by the FHSAA (Florida High School Athletic Association) early next week. Sumner plays in 4M District 8, which is led by Durant High. See coverage of Sumner football by Francis Fedor elsewhere in this week’s paper and digital at ObserverNews.net.
The East Bay Indians play in 3M District 6. At 3-0 in the district and 7-2 overall, the Indians have a playoff bid in their hip pocket for the second year in a row. Coach Michael Gottman’s Indians are highly favored over 2-7 King High in Tampa, Nov. 3.
East Bay bounced back to win 28-20 over Bloomingdale last week to notch a final season record of 3-0 in District 6. The Indians were humbled by Berkeley Prep in a non-district contest the previous week. While East Bay sits atop the district, Bloomingdale has second place in District 6 thanks to the Bulls 2-1 district mark. Bloomingdale is 2-8 overall. In third place in District 6 are the Lennard Longhorns, 1-2 in district and 3-6 overall. Spoto is in the basement of District 6 with a 0-3 mark. The Spartans are 1-8 overall.
East Bay returned to winning form last Friday behind the 212 rushing yards and three TD performance of outstanding senior running back Jaelin Sneed. The EB coaches selected Sneed as Player of the Game. Top juniors contributing on offense included quarterback William Boyd, who hit 10 of 13 passes for 117 yards and a TD, and Anthony Laurent, a back who collected 42 yards on four rushes and pulled in five passes for 69 yards and a touchdown. Senior Indians Jose Hernandez and Isaiah Ketchup provided usual offensive support. Hernandez rushed three times for 15 yards and caught two passes for 17 yards. Ketchup added 16 yards on a pair of rushes and grabbed a pair of passes for the same yardage. Carlos Lemons, a freshman, picked up 15 yards on one tote. EB defensive stalwart senior Antonio Pore, 6-2 230 lb., helped stop Bloomingdale with an interception.
Two South Shore rivals and neighbors clashed last week. Lennard claimed its third win of the season by throwing an offensive whammy against Spoto in a 51-27 donnybrook in Ruskin. Lennard only won once last season, so the Horns definitely made progress this year under new Head Coach KB Belton. The Horns biggest problem is this Friday evening’s juggernaut opponent, 8-1 Armwood. The Hawks host the 3-6 Horns in Seffner. The Hawks have a powerful squad looking to warm up for their playoff run. Armwood’s lone loss came to powerhouse Jesuit High 28-21 outside of district. Armwood sits atop 3M District 4 with 381 points in nine games. Junior runner 5-10 185 lb. Girard Pringle has 20 TDs for the season to spark a stout Hawk offense.
Lennard exploded offensively versus Spoto after the Spartans jumped ahead 7-0 early. The Horns senior Amari Sampson ripped off a 45-yard touchdown to tie the game. It was all Lennard after that. The Horns poured it on behind the running of Sampson with 138 yards rushing and junior Gavin Fields with 129 yards on the ground. Behind a dominant Lennard offensive line, both running backs tallied two touchdowns. Sampson rambled once for a 45-yard score and also dashed 65 yards to the end zone. Fields hit pay dirt with a 15 yard jaunt and a 75 yard run. Lennard sophomore quarterback Jacob Mobley continued his positive development with an eight for 13 passing night, good for two scores and 156 yards. Catching TD aerials were senior Braylon Smith and junior Richard Sykes. Junior Ty Dowell added a score on three carries for 15 yards.
The Lennard defense dominated Spoto, following the Spartans first score. Longhorn senior Anthony Hunt was in on 10 tackles and a sack to slow down the Spoto offense. Other big contributors for the Horns on defense were seniors Dominic Smith and Elijah Darcueil and junior Jamarie Clark. Lennard’s D registered seven sacks against Spoto to stymie any offensive momentum. Horns soph 6-1 135 lb. cornerback Kamerrun Bradley-Dover picked off a Spartan pass. Meanwhile, consistent junior Adien Gibbons booted a 45-yard field goal and six of seven PATs.
Spoto got two touchdowns from junior Z’orey Cotton on a pair of throws from sophomore quarterback Nathan Richardson. Richardson also hit soph receiver Jesse Harden for a TD and scored once on a run. Richardson hit 11 of 16 passes for 251 yards, but Lennard limited Spoto to only 30 yards rushing.
Spoto, 1-8 under Coach Keith Chattin, ends its season at home this Friday with the lightest of cupcakes, the 0-9 Freedom Patriots. Freedom has scored only 19 points all season while coughing up 371 points over the nine losses. This could be the week for a Spoto offensive explosion.
Riverview High closes the regular season hosting 3-6 Steinbrenner High at Riverview. After running out to a six-game winning streak, the Sharks have sustained two disappointing losses to two good teams, Sumner and Durant. Riverview is now 1-2 in 4M D8, trailing both Durant and Sumner. The Sharks are 7-2 overall and hoping a win this week could merit an at-large bid to the playoffs. Coach Tony Rodriquez saw his Sharks lose 36-22 to the Durant Cougars at Riverview on a Homecoming night last Friday. The Cougars jumped out to a 23-15 first quarter lead, and Riverview could not comeback.
Another big night from leading rusher senior Rico Shoats did not help Riverview overcome the tough Durant squad, which completed the regular season 8-2. Shoats piled up 112 yards on 27 carries and scored a TD. Senior quarterback Aaron Turner added 38 yards rushing on eight totes and scored once. The QB also hit seven of 12 passes for 63 yards. Senior Johnny Mathis Jr. caught one for 16 yards, and junior Isaiah Washington was on the receiving end of two for 11 yards. Senior runner Timothy Brigman contributed 48 yards on six attempts. Durant overpowered Riverview’s defense, which was led as usual by seniors Marcus Carey, Christian Feliciano and Landon Johnston, along with juniors Randall Guzman and Kingston Hughes.